Purchasing a computer for business use


In my earlier posts, I always recommend that people get a discrete graphics card with both notebooks and/or desktops.  It seems that when it comes to notebooks, integrated is a better alternative.  With the introduction of the Sandy Bridge processor, integrated graphics is much more attractive.

NOTE:  Ensure that the video card has Dynamic Video Memory. This is the Sandy Bridge processor that can grow or shrink as needed.  AMD’s fusion chip is equivalent to Intel’s Sandy Bridge, but it is not available as of yet.

When it comes to buying a computer for business users, the following is what I assume he/she is looking for:

  • Long battery life
  • Quick opening of applications and opening and/or running of multiple applications
  • Usable for at least a year or two and within budget

To address the issues above, the following should be considered:

  • Integrated graphics card to prolong battery life
  • Adequate amount of RAM to address both the CPU and the video card’s memory needs
  • Faster CPU’s cost more, therefore, pick one that fits one’s budget

Based on Microsoft’s website, Windows 7 minimum requirements are:

Windows 7 system requirements

If you want to run Windows 7 on your PC, here’s what it takes:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Furthermore, Windows 7 64-bit can utilize only so much RAM.

Physical Memory Limits: Windows 7

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows 7.

Version Limit on X64
Windows 7 Ultimate 192 GB
Windows 7 Enterprise 192 GB
Windows 7 Professional 192 GB
Windows 7 Home Premium 16 GB
Windows 7 Home Basic 8 GB
Windows 7 Starter 2 GB

Therefore, when it comes to a business user, I recommend him/her getting a computer with at least 4GB of RAM.  This is assuming that he/she will get Windows 7 Home Basic.

Since the integrated graphics in the Sandy Bridge processors can grow or shrink the amount of RAM allocated to the video card, 4GB should be more than enough.  Currently, the Sandy Bridge processors can utilize up to a maximum of 1.6GB of RAM leaving a minimum of 2.4GB for the CPU.  Although, I will prefer getting 8GB of RAM or more.

Currently, my Windows 7 desktop that is running the basic stuff in the background is using a little over 2GB of RAM.

Speed up Windows 7

For those that want to maximize the power of their computer, there is one additional tip that I will provide that is not frequently discussed online.

Allocate 8GB of virtual memory.

As strange as it may seem, letting Windows manage the size of the virtual memory is a good idea, but it comes at a price.

In order for Windows to manage the size of the virtual memory, it constantly has to examine what is needed at all times.  Therefore, the CPU will be constantly working to determine what size the virtual memory should be at any given time.  This steals CPU cycles that can be better used doing more important tasks.  Therefore, I recommend allocating a set amount of virtual memory.

Difference between Dynamic Video Memory and Static Video Memory

Back in the day, I have purchased computers with an integrated video card.  The video memory allocation is always set up in the BIOS.  Therefore, I would have to enter the BIOS to pick the size of dedicated RAM which can be, for example, 512MB, 1GB, or 1.5GB.

Therefore, if I have  a computer with 4GB of RAM, and I set the video RAM to 1GB, 3GB is the maximum that will be available to the CPU.  Since the 1GB of RAM is reserved for the video card, it is untouchable by the CPU.

With Dynamic Video Memory, the video card will use what is required and allow the CPU to use the remaining unused RAM.  A much better system than the dedicated  that left the RAM untouchable even when not used.

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